Home Articles PROPERTY PORTFOLIO: Agency vs. Private Sales

PROPERTY PORTFOLIO: Agency vs. Private Sales


It has been said many times before that property is one of the biggest investments one can make in a lifetime. So when it comes to divesting yourself of one of life’s biggest assets, do you go it alone or use an estate agent?

Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, asks if you would sell your own shares on the stock market. More than likely not, as many stock market investors realise that the skills and expertise of the stock broker are beneficial to lucrative investment decisions. Property is considered to be an important aspect of any investment portfolio, and is an asset class that has the potential to be just as lucrative – if not more -than the stock market, if managed correctly. Therefore it is important that those wanting to sell a property make use of a professional estate agent to ensure that the sale is successfully concluded.

Some sellers may argue that they do not want to pay the commission to the estate agent and so would rather do it themselves. But they should remember, no one offers a professional business service for free and agents generally work very hard for their commission earnings.

As a property owner, you do not necessarily have the knowledge estate agents do about the ins and outs of selling a property. With this knowledge, an estate agent can assist in selling the property within a reasonable amount of time, and for a fair price. It is their extensive knowledge of the industry and access to a variety of statistics and property tools that enable them to determine a fair market value for a property. In addition, estate agents have relationships with mortgage originators, aside from other service providers, which will assist both the buyer and seller as mortgage originators ensure that buyers qualify to purchase a particular property which will prevent the sale from falling through due to lack of access to credit or bad credit ratings etc.

While hiring an estate agent may not be the perfect fit for every seller, the majority see the benefit. You don’t have to take photos of your home, put them on a website, pay for the costs of advertising the sale of your home, field calls, arrange viewings, chase up viewings or manage offers. Aside from access to all legal requirements and documentation for the sale transaction, estate agents also have a network of contacts and sites that they access to source potential buyers. Furthermore, the introduction of a new qualification system means more professional, educated and experienced agents who have even more value to add to the sale of a property.

The thing to remember is that, as in any industry, not all estate agents have the same ethics, level of professionalism and service guarantees. Shelley O’Hara, author of ‘The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Buying & Selling a Home,’ says, “When you announce your desire to sell or purchase a house, you may be surprised at the number of real estate people who want to represent you. Agents come out of the woodwork. You won’t have to worry too much about finding an agent – you do need to worry about finding a good one.”

So how should sellers go about selecting a credible agent? Goslett provides the following tips:

• Find out how well the agent knows the area and their insight into trends and selling prices.
• Inquire about credentials, licensing and areas of expertise.
• Ask about the types of homes the agent typically deals with. Are these similar to what you are buying and/or selling?
• Ask about the marketing plan for your property.
• Ask how often the agent will provide you with feedback.
• Ask for a list of references from previous clients.
• Ask about the average number of days homes listed through the agent have stayed on the market.
• Ask what percentage of the asking price, on average, the agent has received for the homes sold during the last year.

“Changing agents once you’ve entered into a contract or sole mandate to sell a house is difficult, so be sure you have selected a reliable agent at the start,” says Goslett. “Those sellers who have a good relationship with their agent and trust their agent’s expertise and knowledge usually end up with a smooth sales process where their house is sold for the right price and within a good time frame,” he concludes.

Adrian Goslett is CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.